Tag Archives: technology

Coldwell Banker Skills for Amazon Alexa

As we move toward fully embracing voice-enabled technology and fully functional smart homes, Coldwell Banker has kept a pulse on the latest trends. Now Coldwell Banker is turning up the volume with an Amazon Alexa Skill for agents, brokers, and client to get real estate news on-the-fly.

Thanks to Amazon, “Alexa” has become a household name. On June 6th, 2017 Amazon Alexa users were one step closer to finding the homes of their dreams thanks to a partnership with Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. By prompting Amazon’s voice assistant with,

“ Alexa, Ask Coldwell Banker for the Home of the Week,”

users will hear a one-minute description of a featured Coldwell Banker listing and be connected to their Coldwell Banker office.

On August 1st, 2017 Coldwell Banker unveiled its second Skill for Amazon Alexa — the Coldwell Banker Gen Blue News Skill. By prompting Alexa with,

“Alexa, open Gen Blue News”,

agents will hear the latest Coldwell Banker news and access additional resources through the Alexa app.


What is a Skill?
An Amazon Alexa Skill is an app for the voice-controlled Amazon Echo speakers.

How does it work? Once you enable the skill, just prompt Alexa with, “Alexa, open Gen Blue News.” In less than 90 seconds, Gen Blue News delivers best practices, industry insights and quick challenges to help you grow your business.

Why develop the Skill? Coldwell Banker surveyed its brokers and agents and found that 79 percent of respondents would be interested in a smart home speaker, like an Amazon Echo or Dot, that was equipped with real estate news and industry insights. Your wish is our command!

What can I expect from the Gen Blue News Skill? Episodes will feature quick tips and useful info to stay ahead in the market, challenges to act on immediately to drive business and agent success stories that offer an important dose of inspiration.

Who can I expect to hear from in the Gen Blue News Skill? You’ll hear the voices of brand leadership, industry insiders and the brokers and agents who make up the Coldwell Banker network. The first episode of the Skill features Brad Inman, founder, and owner of Inman News, the leading source for real estate industry news. This episode is all about how agents can suit up for change with the innovative technology available in the real estate business.

How can I try this out for myself? You can search for the Coldwell Banker Gen Blue News Skill in the Amazon Alexa smartphone app, or using your Amazon Echo or Echo Dot, you can ask Alexa, “Enable Coldwell Banker Gen Blue News.”


 

“We’ve heard from agents that they are interested in voice-enabled technology and smart home devices, so we wanted to make sure there was another Coldwell Banker Skill for Amazon Alexa available to help the community keep a pulse on the latest trends and breaking real estate headlines. We’re excited to work with Amazon again to create our second Alexa Skill and expand our tech offerings for agents.”

— David Marine, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC

 

There has never been a more exciting time to be a part of Coldwell Banker D’Ann Harper, REALTORS® and the Coldwell Banker brand. We will work continuously to bring the latest news, tools, and support to help you bring the very best to your clients!

Show off your “Alexa Skills” by tagging us in a video of you trying out this latest development in smart home technology.

Password1234: A Series in Digital Personal Security, Part 1

Guest writer Jason Bird, Network Analyst for Coldwell Banker D’Ann Harper, REALTORS® Technology Department

Chapter 1: Password Strength & You

Password strength is often seen as an annoyance or barrier to getting to where you want to be. In the fast paced market and busy lives we all lead, I understand the challenge complicated passwords pose.

We need that mindset to stop for our own protection.

What is going to be more annoying, or more of a barrier to you getting where you want to be: the extra 3-5 seconds it will take to type a secure password or the weeks and months of headaches you will deal with when someone invariably steals your identity?

1287_5027626If you choose the former, then I suppose you can stop reading now and continue to use “Password1234!” or “fishing21” as your password.

Let’s look at the most common words used in passwords as gathered by many leaked and hacked passwords over the past 2 years:

  • Password
  • Monkey
  • Stayout
  • Letmein
  • Baseball
  • Football
  • Access
  • Batman
  • Mustang
  • Master

If you notice that one of these phrases appears in your password in ANY way (including m@ster or P@ssw0rd) then you probably need to change your passwords yesterday. This list does not even include the most popular dynamic passwords such as your child’s, spouse’s, parent’s, or pet’s names. Those will be the first things someone insidious will attempt in cracking your password. So if your password has any loved one’s or furry friend’s name in it, change it.

1019_5183126So let’s make a secure password. It seems a bit harsh to expect everyone to remember a 25 character alphanumeric random key string, but we can do things to help secure passwords. Follow these guidelines and you should increase your password strength 10 fold over your current Football2 password.

  • At least 10 characters. 15 or more preferred.
  • Make it a phrase with multiple words, preferably incoherent. (e.g. Brown Twitter Sperry)
  • Add uncommon symbols and numbers. (e.g. &rown$Tw1tter*$perry). Notice I have substituted some of the letters for symbols that generally look like the letter they’re replacing. A password cracking program would need over 2x the computing time or 10x the power to crack your password for every symbol you substitute for a letter. Over 50x for just a random symbol replacing nothing.
  • Randomly capitalize some letters (e.g. &roWn$Tw1tter*$peRRy)

Now you have a password that one can reasonably remember and rates 100% on a leading password strength test. (The original password Brown Twitter Sperry rates a 41%). Never write your password down and leave it on your computer, never tell anyone, and never use the “save password” function of your browser.  Also if your Xnet (our intranet system) password is still the default, please change it. Give Technology a call for assistance if you need, we are always here for you!

Coldwell Banker D’Ann Harper REALTORS, Technology Department

The Technology Department  is a team of professionals dedicated to the support of all the Sales Associates and staff at Coldwell Banker D’Ann Harper, REALTORS®. To find out how to join our team visit us here.

Helpdesk: 210-483-7100  •  ithelpdesk@cbharper.com  •  cbharper.com

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Should I Get A Tablet Or Laptop?

One of our on-staff network analysts, Jason Bird, was kind enough to offer his technological insights as a guest writer. Below Jason will outline a commonly asked question regarding laptops versus tablets, with answers to help guide the best decision for you.

“Should I get a tablet or a laptop for my real estate business?”

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Tablet vs. laptop is a common decision I see agents struggle with.

 

To me, the decision becomes clearer when you weigh two factors: production vs. consumption
Let me explain.

 

 

Production

When I say production, I mean the active creation, editing, producing of actual documents such as slideshows, photographs, contracts, etc. Do you often find yourself creating and editing a lot of documents? This is the production side of the scale.

Consumption

When I say consumption, I am talking about the active viewing, presenting, reading, or browsing of documents. Do you find yourself more often reviewing, reading, watching, or presenting your contracts or slideshows? If you watch a lot of movies, or look at a lot of photos, you are consuming media.

 

770_3758739Once you have weighed how much you need from each of those factors, then you can decide on the form your new device will take.

 

“I feel as though I consume media 90% of the time.”

 

A tablet is perfect for you. You want this device to take in client homes and show off a listing presentation or the wonderful photos that Marketing has taken of homes. You want to show the listing videos and the why-list-with-us video to the client and have it be a in a sleek, compact, and easy to use device that has extended battery and the “cool” factor.

 

A tablet will also offer you the ability to edit or create documents in a pinch, but it will not be as easy as doing it on a laptop or desktop computer.

 

“Jason, I really need a device more than a tablet because this will be my all around work device.”

 

438_3370777A laptop is great for you. A laptop affords you the luxury of a full desktop-class operating system with full-featured applications. It has the keyboard you know and love and will be your production workhorse.

 

A laptop is still portable and still can be used as a listing presentation device but is heavier, has less battery life and, sometimes, more cumbersome to use.

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The advent of hybrid devices such as iPad Pro, Surface Pro and 2-in-1 laptops muddy these waters, but they also have tradeoffs beyond the scope of this blog.

This, of course, is a rough guideline but if you have any questions, want help choosing a device or just want to discuss these points further, my number is (210) 483-7106 and I am always happy to help.


 

Thank you Jason for being a guest writer and offering your valuable insight. To reach Jason via email send your message to:

jbird@cbharper.com

OR if you have a general IT questions please contact the IT Help Desk at:

(210) 483-7100  /  ithelpdesk@cbharper.com

 

Leading Real Estate Innovation

We all know that feeling. It’s crunch time and that critical email won’t go through or worse your laptop decides to go rogue thereby denying you access to important files. Not only can this be frustrating, but it costs copious amounts of precious time.

                Waking computers from sleep and anxiously awaiting a tide of new emails is second nature to many of us. Our thoughts race to the plans and tasks each day holds. It’s easy to forget about what’s needed to ensure we have the basic technological tools at our fingertips. For many of us the thought of servers, html coding and bandwidth is enough it toast our brain synapses. For the team of savvy ‘computer whisperers’, this is the language of achievement.

Leading The Way

                The Sales Agents and staff here at Coldwell Banker D’Ann Harper REALTORS® are privileged with a one-of-a-kind IT Department to help 24 hours a day with emergency tech support. This group of talented folks are the experts behind the scenes. Each and everyday countless systems function and flourish due to a very unique infrastructure built from the ground up to accommodate specific needs. New technological trends are constantly being followed, adapted and implemented to enhance the success our Sales Agents and support staff. They also work in conjunction with the Marketing Department to ensure new processes are taught either through classes, an online library or printed ‘how-to’ materials.

Here’s The Facts:

• Our internet connection for downloads is one of the fastest in Texas, Real Estate or any other industry.

• Every Sales Agent gets their own phone and fax number

• Every Sales Agent gets a full featured Realtor.com profile. (www.realtorenhancedlistings.com)

• Email accessible from any mobile device.

• With our state of the art phone system, Sales Agents get voicemail-to-email capability and the ability to dial out with the caller ID of your dedicated number from your cell phone.

• Fully paperless transaction system for the Sales Agents and their clients.

• Exclusive to the San Antonio Metroplex, a CMA that utilizes Lender information that produces accurate List Price for any home.

• Discounts with all major cell phone carriers and Dell computers because of affiliation with the trusted Coldwell Banker brand.

                Each of the above items has far reaching positive influences, all hugely beneficial for the Sales Associates at our brokerage. To put this in perspective, the internet speed at our offices is 100x faster than the internet most of us have at home. Translating to the top 10% internet speeds in the state of Texas, across any industry. With this our phone system is undergoing full transfer to a cloud-based phone system. The internet phone system has many benefits including phone connectivity during power outages. Via the mobile app it allows access to voice attendant capabilities, voicemail and twinning through tablet and smart phone devices.

Here To Support You

                Although it can be confusing without the proper support and guidance, at Coldwell Banker D’Ann Harper, REALTORS® you’re questions never go unanswered. We are ever appreciative of the Information Technology Department and the knowledgeable staff who work hard everyday to keep all the hardware (computers, servers, phone system) up-to-date. The digital highway of information is built of virtual roads driven by the click of our mouse, the touch screen of hand-held devices and the keystrokes at our fingertips.

                Let’s take a moment to applaud the quiet heroes in the background that offer their insight and assistance to each member of the Coldwell Banker D’Ann Harper, REALTORS® staff. Remember, when in doubt restarting your computer, phone or other device will often resolve many of those tiny roadblocks in our technology motivated lives –  and stay safe out there on that information highway.